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Sh2.6bn flower exports face Aussie headwinds



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Australia will not postpone requirements for Kenya to have met guidelines on its horticultural exports as Nairobi stares at a possible loss of the multibillion market.

Kenya had been given a deadline of September this year to comply with the zero pest tolerance directive on all the flowers that are exported to Australia, failure to which they will be banned from accessing the market.

The country has just two weeks to comply with the directive set to hit the Sh2.6 billion annual sales but stakeholders in the industry are afraid Kenya will not beat the deadline.

“We have had several discussions with the Australian officials but they have maintained their stance that the deadline will not be moved,” said Okesegere Ojepat, chief executive at Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya.

The move implies that effective September 1, Kenya’s flower export to Australia will halt.

The new directive was to be effective on July 1 but Kenya asked for an extension to address the matter accordingly.

Under the new regulations, Kenya’s exporters would be required to fumigate their produce at least 18 hours before it is exported, which is not the case at the moment. Currently Australia does the disinfection at their port of entry before it gets to the market.

Stakeholders are concerned that Kenya might not have the capacity to put up a full-fledged fumigation infrastructure in place as there is none available at the moment.

“For us to put up a fumigation plant, we need at least Sh500 million to meet the cost of this facility,” he said.

The cut-flower export remains the largest earner in the horticulture sector, contributing over 70 percent of the total fresh produce’s annual earnings.

Flowers made the bulk of the earnings in 2018 bringing in Sh113 billion with fruits emerging second by raking in Sh12 billion followed by vegetables at Sh27 billion.

Horticulture earnings hit Sh153 billion last year making it number three in contribution of Kenya to forex earnings after diaspora remittance (Sh272 billion) and tourism (Sh157 billion) in 2018.

The Business Daily was unable to get a comment from Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo.

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